Market Your Restaurant Online Successfully, Part 1-Necessary Ingredients

In the first of this two-part series, I delve fork-first into what should be on your success plate for your restaurant via the world wide web and which content accompaniments will have your customers coming back for more.

*It’s Like a Restaurant without Signage ~ Restaurateurs everywhere, you may offer fantastic platings and have a location that rivals cobblestone street cafes in France, but today’s savvy foodie eats with their eyes first…ON THE INTERNET. What about the power luncheon you’re boss asks your to book and you need that perfect location with a swank menu to ink the deal?  Or the family of 7 traveling from Virginia to Maine who needs an affordable, family friendly menu with ample seating?  In 2012, 90% of consumers first instinct is to Google everything – that’s even for the neighborhood coffee & biscotti café. One of the most successful ways for potential customers to know how fantastic your spot is- is if you have a website. This reigns true if you’re a small Mom & Pop coffee shop, a breakfast & lunch only establishment, or have won a “Best” culinary award for your fusion creations. Wherever you are and unknown vs. well-known, it is imperative you have a web presence to:
1. let the world know you exist and give them a visual perspective of your establishment and its offerings;
2. stay relevant & competitive with other restaurateurs within the same category or cuisine within your surrounding neighborhood/area;
3.  make the world aware of accolades you’ve received and watch them influence your prospective patrons; and last but most importantly
4. obtain new and possibly life-long, faithful patrons.
*A Sour Ingredient? ~ If you’re still not convinced a website is necessary, here’s an eye-opening scenario. If you don’t have a website you could be opening yourself up to reviews of your food and/or service via such sites like Yelp which allow visitors to say something influential about your establishment. And wait, here it comes…AND POST IT ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. Whether flattering or not, you won’t have a voice and presence on the www to contradict it will you…Convinced now? I have disregarded many a YELPing, whinny patron’s review when the restaurant’s website reflects legitimate and noteworthy criticism and compliments.

*Wanna Really Start Cookin’? Add Some Social Media ~ Social Media is big business in every business arena around. Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Stumble Upon…and even more to come. And the great thing about Social Media is that it’s free! Tweet about your most popular pizza made with all organic ingredients.  Create a Facebook page for your restaurant and get customers to Like it. Dish on Digg about this seasons new menu and why your patrons need to give it a test run.
Another great Social Media tool is blogs. Much like this one, blogs can be influential depending on the level of content writing, and what other mediums the blogger is using to expose your restaurant to the world. And if they have a decent following in the industry for which your business belongs to, that’s even more exposure in addition to your other online marketing tools. I’ve seen this at work with a recent client for which I blog and how their customers responded to it. The blog influenced someone to order a dish they never had before and now they are absolutely in love with it. AND they bragged to others about it and now that establishment has 3 new customers. Ahhh…the power of suggestion.
Check back next week when I add the remaining ingredients  for a stellar, set you apart from the competition restaurant website. And if you think you should toss this advice out with your table scraps, check out  and see what CKE Restaurants founder Carl N. Karcher found behind the curtain about his restaurants web presence!

Packaging your design services like TOYS

Toy TruckMy kids recently taught me a lesson in how they view the world I’ve put around them. Eating dinner and taking showers aren’t they’re most favorite things to do. But having “lunch” and taking bubble baths are. At first glance the two comparisons don’t seem to be much, but they actually are. It’s all in the wrapping and presentation. Much like how toys are always in bright vibrant colors, and most other products are boring and bland colored.

Consider your current design services. You probably have a website, tri-fold brochure, business card, and maybe a postcard flyer. What I want you to think about or review is how each of those mediums may look to your potential clients. Lets strip away all the marketing views for now, and focus purely on design and eye-candy appeal. Most consumers are impulse buyers. I’d like to separate that into two: visual impulse and conceptual impulse.

Visually your mediums should be entertaining to the eyes when they first see it. Almost telling a story about how much fun they’ll have with this new possible toy. Remember how excited you would get seeing that new commercial for a G.I. Joe action figure? You knew it didn’t move on its own, but seeing it do all those cool moves in the commercial gave you this urge that you had to have it. You visually saw yourself playing with that toy the same way.

A more aggressive approach would be to fine tune some of your mediums for the conceptual business owners. They’ll purchase mainly because they already understand a specific service or product need in their minds. Sure you may offer many design services, but they’re only interested in one. Once you can identify that, it will become your open door to offering other companion services to them.

I would suggest the same for when you setup a package specific for a new potential client. Do a little research and see if you can find out what may be eye-catching to them. If it’s through someone who may be referring you to their associate, ask questions about habits, likes, and what they favor. Use this information to almost customize your approach and re-edit your flyers and media kit to really get that “new toy” mesmerizing effect. Here are some tips:

  • Less clutter – It’s easier to grab a potential client’s attention when they don’t have to use too much of their brain or eyes overlooking a lot of content. That goes from websites to business cards.
  • Choose to use colors or Not – Bright colors aren’t necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes all white with one accent color could stand out more than a rainbow. However some well placed bright colors have a way of bringing back memories of long-lost toys that we loved when we were younger.
  • Vectors or real Pictures – This is another either or cases here. And I’m not talking clip art. If you’re more into vectors then stay there and keep with the theme. Same if you’re using real images. But with real images you can do a lot of easy editing to have so cool effects that could create a visual for a client’s own product.
  • Current Trends and Themes – When Transformers came out, big companies were falling over themselves to jump on the bandwagon and cross-promote using the Autobots and their products. If you have time, why not do the same with some of your flyers or brochures or website. It’s sure to get attention and spark conversation. The key would be to tie that in to a specific service on your part though.

Have you used this strategy before? If so I’d like to hear about it. Any other points and comments are also welcome in the fields below.